Start Your Own Personal Shopper Business

by Alice Seba

A personal shopper business can be run online, offline or a combination of both. If you love shopping this might be perfect for you.

What is a Personal Shopper Business?

A personal shopper is someone who shops for someone else. You could shop for someone who just doesn’t have the time or ability to go out shopping, like a senior, or could be a more upscale client who looks to you for your expertise and taste in picking out just the right fashions. You could also have corporate clients that are searching for the perfect gifts for clients and employees.

You can run this business with clients in your own community or you can try your hand at networking on the Internet to build a client base.

Personal Shopper Supplies

There aren’t many specific supplies you need for this job. One thing you’ll definitely need if you’re shopping the brick and mortar stores is a reliable, preferably fuel-efficient vehicle.

Be sure you’re always available during office hours with an answering machine and/or a cell phone.

Have some business cards and possibly some brochures printed.

An instant camera can come in handy to take pictures of items for your clients.

Personal Shopper Skills & Attributes

  • Love of Shopping — First and foremost, you must love shopping. If you don’t like to shop for yourself, you’re not going to like shopping for anyone else.
  • Customer Service — You need to have a perfect understanding of what your client needs and deliver it consistently. For example, if your client is an elderly person, you may need to consider cost effectiveness as she may be on a limited budget. You should also be sensitive to the fact that she may feel a little helpless that she is no longer capable of running her own errands. Know each of your clients so that you can provide exactly the kind of service she desires.
  • Discriminating Taste — Many of your clients will likely be in the higher income ranges. They can afford to pay for your services and want high quality merchandise.
  • Creativity — Your clients may call upon you to find just the right gift. You need to have an understanding of people and have the creativity to come up with something that your clients and the gift recipient will be thrilled about.

Personal Shopper Rates

Your rates will depend on the type of client you are serving. A corporate or upscale client will be able to bear a higher cost. On the other hand, a senior will likely be on a fixed in come and would require a lower rate. One thing to keep in mind, that although seniors may not pay as high a fee, they are likely to be a continuous source of business as they could require assistance on a regular basis.

There are generally two ways to charge your clients:

  • Fee Based on the Cost of the Merchandise: i.e. charge a percentage of the items purchased. This is the best option if you are not doing a lot of consultation with your clients. You can also do a lot your pre-shopping on the Internet or in the newspaper before you head out, saving you valuable time.
  • Hourly Rate: You may want to choose this route if you are doing a lot of consultation with your client. This may not be the best option for clients with low cost purchases. For example, if you bought a $30 item for your client, she likely wouldn’t be happy with a $20 charge for one hour of your services.

Get Your Business off the Ground

A cost-effective way of getting your business started is to use your own network of contacts and pitch your services to your potential clients personally.

You can also visit various seniors housing and ask if they will display your business cards and/or brochures.

You can set a realistic advertising budget and advertise in your local newspaper.

Online Marketing Ideas

You should create, or have someone create for you, a professional-looking web page to serve as your "office" where your potential clients can visit you to learn about your services.

You can use your web page to attract online shopping clients – i.e. clients for which you will shop on the Internet. Often the Internet is the perfect place to find that perfectly, unique gift. Advertise your online shopping savvy to those special clients.

The Internet is still a faceless place. If you plan to acquire online shopping clients, you need to gain their trust. Join a few online groups and get to know people that way. Don’t jam your services down their throats, but do include your services in your signature line if it is allowed.

You may want to stay away from the home business groups for the purpose of acquiring clients, but do join these groups to develop other partnerships. Home business people are much less likely to require a personal shopper on the Internet. Choose some topic that interests you — parents of twins (if you are one), knitting club, etc. Try http://groups.yahoo.com for some good groups or start your own!

In addition, you can find other people who might be interested in working for you as a personal shopper. This is the perfect way to expand your business to include clients nationwide or even internationally clients.

Partner with various websites. Ask them to have a special "personal shopper" section to their website and offer to pay a finder’s fee for new clients. This could work as an affiliate program or you could promote their businesses on your site in return.

Additional Personal Shopper Business Resources

Recently, we wrote an article on starting your own Mystery Shopping Business. This could be a perfect compliment to a Personal Shopping Business. Both business ideas have you shopping on the behalf of clients. Read the article to find out more about starting your own Mystery Shopping Business.

For a More Comprehensive Look at the Personal Shopper Business

Emily S. Lumpkin has written a comprehensive guide, Get Paid to Shop: Be a Personal Shopper for Corporate America. This book is geared toward women and helps them use their creativity and networking skills to build a successful home business. This step-by-step guide will save you a lot of trial and error before you take the plunge into Personal Shopping. You can find out more or buy the book at Amazon.com.

MyMommyBiz has an informative ebook called Start Your Own Errand Service for Seniors. An errand service for seniors is a great way to earn extra money and to help out in the community. The book includes: how to find clients, what services to offer and which to avoid, organizing your time, what to charge and how to get paid and advertising tips.

You may also want to read through Rob Spina’s How to Start and Operate an Errand Service. It’s a complete guide for the individual who wants to start her own personal errand service, but doesn’t have a lot of business experience or start up cash. Find out more or buy the book at Amazon.com.

Interview & Article by Alice Seba, editor of http://www.internetbasedmoms.com — a FREE online business resource center for work at home moms. Visit her copywriting website at http://www.wahmcopywriter.com for free content, writing tips and services.

Resources

How to Become a Personal Shopper
In our busy society an increasing number of people need to hire someone to do their shopping. The information in this e-book can save you many hours of research time. In addition to valuable advice, you will find the best personal shopping resources gathered for you in one place.

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